Patrick Willis made millions of dollars during his short NFL career, so when the 49ers linebacker walked away from the sport before the 2015 season, many would have assumed that he was going to kick back and enjoy himself for a few years.
A new story from Mashable reveals that Willis has defied those expectations by launching a second career in the world of tech startups, joining Open Source Storage as an executive vice president and board member, a job he got by a chance encounter with the company’s founder Eren Niazi as he recovered from an injury.
Several months before he retired, Willis was recovering from a surgical operation when Niazi spotted him wrestling to move bags from his car to front door.
"Usually when people walk up to me, they kind of already know who I am and have some motive," Willis recalled this week. "But he just insisted like, 'Let me help you with that.' Then he just took off. I thought it was cool."
Niazi wasn't being polite or nonchalant, though. He doesn't follow sports and has never been to a 49ers game.
The former Pro Bowl linebacker works closely with Niazi on hiring new employees for the firm and says he is so focused on his new job that he did not watch much pro football last season.